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Tuesday, 15 November 2011 09:41

Postal Services Stop for Service Members Another Sign Service Members are Heading Home

Written by Spc. Anthony Zane

The Army Post Office on Contingency Operating Base Adder
COB ADDER, Iraq – With the expectation that U.S. forces will be out of Iraq by the end of the year, the number of service members leaving the country continues to increase while the volume of incoming mail decreased.

The Army Post Office on Contingency Operating Base Adder stopped receiving incoming mail and notified service members on base that Nov. 13 is the last day for postal services.

We sent out notification 90 days before the deadline so soldiers could prepare and allow them time to send what they needed home, said Sgt. Christian Sanchez, contracting officer representative, Postal Platoon, 1-502nd Human Resource Company, from Miami, Fla.

Hours of operation have been extended, staying open three additional hours per day.

“We were expecting to be really busy so we extended the hours,” said Sanchez. “The idea was to keep it open late so people who work a 12-hour shift would have a chance to get to the APO and mail their stuff home,” said Sanchez.  In the past, civilian contractors have operated the APO, but with the drawdown, all operations are in a transition phase. Right now the 1-502nd Postal Platoon supervises and assists the civilian employees, but will take over full operations of the APO when they leave country.

“We help the APO with customers, so they don’t have too many people in line here trying to mail stuff,” said Sanchez. “At the same time, we’ve been doing our mobile missions on the COB.”

With an abundance of mail being shipped back to the states by service members, the processing time to inspect and seal packages is surprisingly short.

“It’s been running smoothly,” said Spc. Rosemary Siatunuu, military postal mission non-commissioned office-in-charge, Postal Platoon, 1-502nd HR Company, from Waipahu, Hawaii. “The flow of people in the line hasn’t been that long. The wait time is about ten minutes on average.”

In addition to their supervisory role at the APO, the Postal Platoon organizes mobile missions for units on COB Adder that have difficulty getting to the APO to send mail home.

“We put out a flyer of information to the units, telling them that the military people can come out to their location and service them,” said Siatunuu. “It’s to speed up the process. That way they’re not all coming into the post office at different times. They all do it as a unit.”

The difference is that it is military personnel doing the mobile inspections and not contracted civilians, said Siatunuu.

Their success has exceeded their own expectations.

“Altogether, my platoon came into Iraq under the assumption that we would be working as a postal platoon,” said 1st Lt. Carl R. Price, postal platoon leader, Postal Platoon, 1-502nd HR Company, from San Antonio, Texas. “We didn’t really know what that entailed, but getting on the ground at our first location in Mosul (FOB) Marez, Iraq, we were able to handle the postal mission there in conjunction with [civilian personnel], as well as the second location; joint base Balad.”

“In both of these places our mission had a broad range, relating from contracting officer representative to mobile postal missions at various outlying locations,” said Price. “Our follow-on mission after that was this location where we are now, COB Adder, as well as Basra.”

The experience the Postal Platoon gained from the first locations they serviced has aided their efforts.

“It hasn’t been as difficult as I would have imagined because we’ve already gone through this closure process in those other two locations,” said Price.

“Instead of our usual mobile postal missions that go to outlying locations, we did an on-post mobile mission here to facilitate some of those units that are coming through here on their way back home to help out the [civilian personnel] that man the post office, and to help out our fellow soldiers,” said Price.

The difference between this location and our previous location is, instead of it being an APO closure, we’re actually doing a full transition over to the Department of State, said Price.

Service members are grateful for the Postal Platoon.

“Customer service and helping out the soldiers is the best part of this job,” said Siatunuu. “It’s very helpful for the Soldiers because a lot of them don’t have time to come to the post office and they really appreciate when we come out and do these mobile missions.”

Teamwork is a key factor to the success of the Postal Platoon’s mission.

“All in all, it has been a pleasant experience,” said Price. “I wouldn’t have been able to do any of it without the dedication of my NCOs and the motivation of my troops; and I definitely thank the service of the [civilian personnel] that are here also.”

“The Department of State has been on ground and we have been trying to work hand-in-hand with them to make sure it is a smooth transition for them, so that they can continue their mission here in country when we’re gone,” said Price.

November 15, 2011: Written by Spc. Anthony Zane, 362nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Last modified on Friday, 18 November 2011 09:56
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